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Chombo's chaos

Zim Standard

By Caiphas Chimhete

THE government has created another "health time bomb" by relocating farmers
and vendors from Mbare Musika to the City Sports Centre without adequately
planning for the move, residents and traders told The Standard last week.

Following the death of 14 people from cholera a fortnight ago, the
government panicked and immediately ordered farmers and vendors to relocate
from Mbare Musika, where mud, piles of garbage and flies had colonised the
area, creating a major a health hazard.
But the new site, close to Belvedere is unsuitable for trading activities
and many people say Chombo has literary taken the hazard from Mbare to the
city centre.

They fear the site could become a new breeding ground for various diseases,
which could haunt the city centre, and nearby suburbs, particularly
Belvedere and Ridgeview. Criminal activities can also be expected to rise.

When the site was opened for trading on Friday, the place was still
surrounded by tall grass, had no toilets or refuse bins. It did not even
have any makeshift structures for use by the traders.

On the same day, municipal workers were busy slashing the grass, clearly
pointing to the haphazard nature of the relocation carried out by Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development Minister, Ignatious Chombo,
who appears to have virtually taken over the running of Harare.

Arnold Jeki, who had ordered bananas to sell in Dzivarasekwa suburb,
complained about litter that is already piling up because there are no
rubbish bins.

Combined Harare Residents' Association spokesperson, Precious Shumba, said
the move was an admission of failure by the authorities to plan ahead.

"It's too close to the city and what they have done is transfer the problem
from Mbare to the city. What is happening now clearly shows that the
commission is incapable of discharging its duties," said Shumba, who called
for disbandment of the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission running the City
of Harare.

Chombo, who has fired many MDC councils, has extended the commission's term
saying they were "doing a good job under difficult circumstances, secondly
they have produced a turnaround strategy for the City of Harare..."

Old Ridgeview Residential Association spokesperson Moosa Hassan said: "I can
see a rise in criminal activities and diseases in the area. Already there
was a serious traffic jam this morning around 7AM. This thing was not

Ridgeview residents will meet on Wednesday this week to discuss the way
forward, he said.

Even the traders themselves were not impressed by the forced move from Mbare
to the City Sports Centre.

Ambuya Hakata (63) from Marondera, who was selling vegetables and lemons,
complained of low business, as there are no "kombis" that directly link the
site with Harare's different residential suburbs.

From Mbare Musika, vendors were able to get transport direct to their
different residential areas, making the whole process cheaper.

"Now that I have ordered my goods, I have to carry them into the city centre
because pushcarts were banned in the city. I will have to get transport from
Rezende Street to Chikurubi Maximum Prison," complained Jenina Sibanda,
carrying a basket full of mangoes and tomatoes on her head.

The absence of sleeping rooms or a place to store their produce if they are
not all bought during the day also worried the farmers.

Mary Gumbomunda from Rusape said: "Business here closes at 11AM and we don't
have a place to keep our leftovers or even sleep. It means I will have to
travel back to Mbare for the safe keep of my goods and sleep."

Some traders, who requested anonymity, said the commission running the
affairs of Harare should be replaced by an elected council that is
accountable to ratepayers.

"Makwavarara and company should just go because they have bungled not only
in Mbare, but Harare as a whole," said one trader.

Makwavarara, a political turncoat who was handpicked by Chombo, chairs the

"There is precedence already. I don't know if it does not apply here.
(Solomon) Tavengwa (the late, former Harare Mayor) was fired after Harare
had gone for five days without water but now 14 people have died and nothing
has happened," said a customer, who identified himself only as Mike.

However, despite the mounting problem of water shortages, sewage and
non-collection of refuse by council, the commission's term of office has
been extended several times.

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Residents demand Minister's arrest

Zim Standard

By Gibbs Dube

BULAWAYO - Fifty-one home seekers in Bulawayo have applied for the
imprisonment of the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development, Ignatious Chombo, for failing to implement a court order
instructing him to provide them houses under the "Pay-For-Your-House" scheme
mooted in the 1990s.

Elisha Mtshiya and 50 others, represented by Mashobana Ncube and Mkhululi
Nyathi of Mabhikwa, Hikwa and Nyathi legal practitioners, filed the court
application last Thursday for contempt of court after High Court Judge
Justice Nicholas Ndou instructed Chombo and a ministry official identified
as Mr Shadaya to allocate standard houses to the applicants within 90 days.
The applicants were granted the court order in January last year and were
expected to be allocated houses in May 2005 but the Minister allegedly
failed to comply with the court edict. Mtshiya and his colleagues were
involved in a housing scheme administered by the then Ministry of Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing in the 1990s under which they
made monthly financial contributions in the hope of owning houses.

Their houses in Nkulumane suburb were allegedly taken over by city residents
who forcibly occupied them, leaving the 51 stranded.

In the fresh application, they are seeking an order for the High Court to
instruct the sheriff in Harare or his lawful deputies or assistant deputies
"anywhere in Zimbabwe to make personal attachments of Minister Chombo and
Shadaya and cause them to be delivered to any prison in Zimbabwe within five
days of granting (the) court order".

The two, who have 10 days to respond to the application after receiving the
court papers, are expected to pay the cost of the application.

If they fail to respond and are imprisoned, they will be jailed for 30
continuous days until they provide the houses to the applicants.

Court papers in possession of The Standard indicate that instead of
allocating houses to the applicants, the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development allocated 51 stands to the applicants in
December last year in Cowdray Park suburb which they rejected in favour of
standard houses.

In a letter, dated 13 December 2005, a T Nyakujara representing the
Ministry's Permanent Secretary wrote to Mabhikwa, Hikwa and Nyathi legal
firm indicating that the home seekers had been allocated stands in
Bulawayo's high-density suburb, the home of Operation Hlalani Kuhle.

It reads in part: "We request that we negotiate a settlement of this case.
Government has offered stands to your clients in Cowdray Park and this is
the best it can do. The Ministry has no money to build the houses.

"The stands are available and have been reserved for your clients. A few of
them have accepted this offer and taken up their stands. We hope this will
assist in resolving this case amicably."

However, the applicants rejected the offer preferring standard houses
similar to those that they were supposed to occupy in Nkulumane suburb.

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IMF mission for Zimbabwe

Zim Standard

By Ndamu Sandu

A five-member delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrives
in the country next week for the annual Article IV Consultation exercise
ahead of the fund's Executive Board meeting in March. While the mission
should have been a routine visit, The Standard understands the delegation
led by Sharmini Coorey, will review the macro-economic situation as well as
assess the country's efforts to improve co-operation ahead of the March

In September last year, IMF granted Zimbabwe a stay of execution after it
postponed - for six months - its widely expected recommendation to have the
country withdrawn from the fund.

Compulsory withdrawal is the last step in a series of measures that the IMF
applies to members that fail to meet its obligations under the Articles of

IMF spokesperson Gita Bhatt confirmed the visit. "A staff team will visit
Harare during January 25 to February 1, 2006 to review the macroeconomic
situation and assess Zimbabwe's efforts to improve cooperation with the Fund
ahead of the next Board meeting expected in March 2006," Bhatt said.

Zimbabwe has been in continuous arrears to the IMF since February 2001 but
has been making efforts in the past 14 months to settle its arrears. As of
Friday Zimbabwe owed IMF US$136.7 million after making a payment of US$163.5
million last year and US$9.5 million in the first quarter of 2006.

The country's authorities have promised to settle all its arrears by
December this year. The former Czechoslovakia (axed in 1954) is the only
country to be booted out of the 184 -member group in the history of the
lending institution.

In its last Article IV consultation, the IMF painted a gloomy picture for
Zimbabwe forecasting a decline in real GDP of 7 % in 2005, mainly due to
difficulties in agriculture. It said that the fiscal deficit would widen to
14 % of GDP and contribute - together with the RBZ's expanding quasi-fiscal
activity - to a pick up in inflation to 320% by end of 2005. Figures
released by the Central Statistical Office point that year-on -year
inflation for December had risen to 585.8% from 502.4% in November.

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Tsvangirai censures Mugabe

Zim Standard

By Foster Dongozi

MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) president, Morgan Tsvangirai has
written a letter to President Robert Mugabe, protesting against the
politicisation of senior army, police and intelligence officers, turning
them into Zanu PF functionaries.

The letter which was copied to the Secretary General of the United Nations,
Kofi Annan, the African Union and SADC was delivered to Mugabe's Munhumutapa
offices, last week.
The President is currently on his annual vacation and has reportedly been
holidaying in Thailand.

Tsvangirai's letter appears to have been prompted by recent statements made
by Major General Martin Chedondo, who told soldiers during a pass-out parade
in Gweru that the MDC should be destroyed and that its leader, Tsvangirai,
should be treated as the country's number one enemy.

Tsvangirai in his letter said: "Let me say this to you for the record: A
physical elimination of myself and some of my colleagues in the MDC
leadership will not solve your political problems. If anything, such
dastardly and cowardly acts will definitely have an incendiary and therefore
totally destructive effect on the country. It is therefore quite clear that
under your direct command, and under the present Zimbabwe Defence Forces and
ZRP officer corps, the army and police are being transformed into organised
armed combat units of your political party."

He said despite Mugabe's efforts to politicise the security arms, only the
senior army officers had been politicised.

"We are aware that your instructions as expressed by the officer corps of
the army and the police have not percolated to the lower levels of the
patriotic ordinary soldiers and policemen and women, whose loyalty to the
Zimbabwean nation undoubtedly goes beyond narrow allegiances to political

Tsvangirai warned Mugabe that, by pushing senior army and police officers
into active politics, Mugabe was creating a potentially explosive situation
which constituted a serious threat to the future stability and integrity of
the country.

"You are no doubt aware that Africa is replete with examples of the
disastrous consequences of deliberately politicising the officer corps of
the army and the police and the bloody fractious outcome of that. Is this
the legacy you want to leave behind?

"We are well aware that that this politicisation of the army, police and CIO
and senior civil servants is a product of your desperate attempt to
ruthlessly quash all political opposition, both inside and outside your
party, ahead of your inevitable departure from office. This will enable you
to craft, engineer and implement an illegitimate succession plan to position
of State President in which a hand-picked successor will inherit your
despotic rule."

He said the politicisation of the uniformed forces had created a situation
in which unarmed civilians were now pitted against armed wings of the civil

"These organs of the Zimbabwe public service are now operating virtually as
active partisan units of your political party in what is supposed to be a
civilian political contest between two civilian political parties. It has
become, instead, a contest between the civilian political formation that I
lead and the civil-military junta that you preside over."

Tsvangirai said a clear example that the military had been politicised was
the 2002 Press conference in which members of the uniformed forces declared
that they would not accept an MDC victory in the presidential elections.

"It was a direct threat to mount a coup d'etat against an MDC government,
should it come to power. As Commander of the ZDF, we can safely assume that
they were acting under your direct orders."

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Zanu PF fuels black market

Zim Standard

By our correspondent

CHINHOYI - Zanu PF Provincial Office in Mashonaland West is fuelling the
black market after commandeering fuel meant for newly resettled farmers.
However, the bulk of the fuel is finding its way into the lucrative parallel
market. Initially the ruling party was being allocated fuel so that it could
resell it and raise funds for the Zanu PF National Conference held in
Esigodini in December.

But as late as last week the ruling party's office in Chinhoyi was a hive of
activities as provincial party stalwarts, Chinhoyi urban councillors and
their friends were buying fuel, which ended up on the parallel market at
Gwayagwaya Musika, where a litre can fetch as much as $140 000.
The fuel is collected from a depot situated in Chinhoyi's industrial sites.

Many farmers, who are supposed to receive priority allocation under the
government's programme intended to boost agricultural production this year,
are being left out, thereby compromising food security in the country at a
time when the country is relying on the international community to help feed
an estimated 3 million people by next month, rising to 5 million, in dire
need of food aid.

A farmer, who failed to get fuel, told The Standard that the Zanu PF party's
offices were vetting those who will benefit in order to prevent "unpatriotic
citizens" from accessing the fuel.

He said: "This scheme is being abused and I swear that as much as we have
received good rains, we will not harvest enough to feed the nation."

However, investigations by The Standard revealed that the bulk of fuel ended
up on the parallel market at Gwayagwaya Musika.

Efforts by The Standard to get comment from the Zanu PF Mashonaland West
provincial chairman, John Mafa, over several days were unsuccessful as his
mobile phone was constantly out of reach.

However, a report compiled by E Mavingire, the party's youth and security
officer for Mashonaland West and copied to Zanu PF's Secretary for
Administration, the Minister of State for State Enterprises, Anti-monopolies
and Anti-corruption, Paul Mangwana, and the chairman of war veterans in the
province, expresses concern over the party's involvement in fuelling the
black market.

Headed How the party is being destroyed in Mash West, the report outlines
how the provincial office in Mashonaland West orders fuel from NOCZIM.

The report says: "Off (sic) course, people are desperate for fuel and they
will buy at any prize (sic), but should it be Zanu (PF) selling that fuel at
the black market rate to its own people? What do the general people say? How
do we stop the fuel black market when we are fuelling it? There is no prize
(sic) of the fuel on the invoice. Where is the accountability?

"I believe Govt and party organs should be decentralised to monitor the 'big
fish' in the province. The ministry of anti-corruption should be within the
people so that they can be sensitive to the people's difficulties. At the
moment we do not even know whether the department exists.

"The party's security department should be protected from these 'big fish'
in the province as they normally are confined (sic) to the office or are
removed if they begin to 'see too much'. Kuona-haufaniri kuona but to be a

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Tsvangirai appeals to Supreme Court

Zim Standard

By Valentine Maponga

MORGAN Tsvangirai, the embattled opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader has appealed to the Supreme Court to have results of the
presidential election of 2002 nullified and a new election date set, against
a High Court judgement.

Tsvangirai has been fighting since 12 April 2002, to have the result of the
hotly contested presidential election of 9 - 11 March 2002 set aside.
President Robert Mugabe was declared the winner of the controversial
However, Tsvangirai argues that the election result should be set aside
because it was not conducted in full compliance with the Zimbabwean law.

He says some of the laws and regulations used to conduct the election were
not in line with the Zimbabwe Constitution, and were therefore invalid.

"The officials and institutions who conducted the election did not comply
with some important parts of the Zimbabwe constitution and other relevant

According to documents recently filed before the Supreme Court, Tsvangirai
is appealing against "paragraphs 2 and 3" of the High Court judgement of 28
November which was handed down by Justice Ben Hlatshwayo.

Justice Hlatshwayo dismissed the opposition leader's application to have the
presidential poll results declared null and void and order an election
rerun. He however, gave no reasons for the dismissal.

Tsvangirai's lawyers are arguing that Justice Hlatshwayo erred by failing to
find that the validation contained in the Electoral (Modification) Notice
2002, SI 41D/2002, was unlawful and not in accordance with the principles of
the Electoral Law.

". as a consequence the Presidential Election of March 2002 was not
conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act and the Principles set out in
that Act," reads part of the appeal seeking an order for a rerun of the

In the appeal, Tsvangirai also argues the laws which were used to conduct
the election were in breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

"The learned Judge erred in failing to consider and in failing to find that
section 158 of the Electoral Act (chapter 2:01) was contrary to the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, and accordingly that section and all laws
purportedly in terms of that section are void and of no force and effect,"
reads part of the arguments by Tsvangirai's lawyers Coglan, Welsh and Guest.

Section 158 of the Electoral Act delegates to the President of Zimbabwe the
power to amend the electoral law mentioned in the Constitution. This may
include the power to make deletions from or additions to election laws.

Consequently, according to the lawyers, this invalidates the 2002
presidential election because the conduct and outcome of the election was
strongly influenced by regulations made under section 158.

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Khuphe eyes MDC VP's post

Zim Standard

By our staff

BULAWAYO - The Member of Parliament for Makokoba, Thokozani Khuphe, is in
the race to take over the Vice presidency of the Movement for Democratic
(MDC) from veteran trade unionist Gibson Sibanda. Sibanda, who belongs to
pro-Senate faction, has spurned efforts by MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai
to reconcile, paving the way for the selection of a new vice president of
the faction at next month's congress.

There are indications that more people could be interested in the position
but are keeping their cards close to their chests amid reports that moves to
re-unite Tsvangirai and Sibanda have not been exhausted.
Reacting to some MDC members' suggestions that she could be one of the
contestants, Khuphe said she was more than willing to represent Zimbabweans
as the vice president of the party.

The 42-year-old single mother of three children, said: "If it was two years
ago, I may have declined to take up such a position, but now I have the
confidence and experience to tackle political issues in any position,
especially the vice presidency of the party. I see no problem at all if I am
elevated to the second most powerful position in the MDC.

"If people are saying that (elevation to the post of vice president), I will
represent them fully and I am committed to do everything for them."

She was one of the founding members of the opposition party and said
"currently I am in the MDC with President Tsvangirai. As far as I am
concerned we have only one party led by Tsvangirai".

A spokesman for the Tsvangirai group, Nelson Chamisa, could not be drawn to
comment on the issue saying this would be decided by the people at the
forthcoming congress scheduled for the first week of March.

"I cannot say right now whether the person who will occupy the vice
presidency of the party will be a man or woman. I believe that party
structures will have to make a decision on that issue," Chamisa said.

Meanwhile Professor Welshman Ncube, one of the leaders of the pro-Senate
faction of the MDC says appeared to offer prospects of bringing together the
two sides.

He said: "We know that many people across the country are upset by the
division in the party. From Gokwe, to Nkayi to Mutoko people have told us
their anguish. They have said the MDC was our only hope. The MDC was our
only way out of the Mugabe madness.

"Men and women have come to us literally in tears. We have agonised long and
hard over the division. But we found that if we support peaceful, democratic
change in Zimbabwe, how do we make accommodation with what Morgan is

Ncube then outlined three conditions for reuniting the two sides. They say
that Tsvangirai must agree to: abide by the partyıs democratic constitution
and accept collective decision-making; embrace non-violence as a core
principle and refuse to use the coercion of militia; and consult with the
party elected officials when making decisions, not seek the opinions of a
kitchen cabinet of unelected officials and then overrule decisions of the
National Executive and announce the decision as a fait accompli.

Ncube said: "We need to demonstrate democracy to regain the confidence of
the people. We cannot accept an all powerful president of the party who does
what he likes. That is like Mugabe. We still hope to reach an

But he appeared to send a different signal when he said their faction had
tentatively set 25 February as the date for their congress. He did not
indicate the venue. Tsvangirai's faction is reportedly planning its congress
for 18 and 19 March.

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Labour crisis on farms

Zim Standard

      By Caiphas Chimhete

      A CRITICAL shortage of farm labour could seriously undermine prospects
of a bumper harvest this season despite the good rains that have fallen,
agriculture experts have warned.

      They said this has been further exacerbated by the scarcity of farming
inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fuel.
      Zimbabwe Farmer's Union (ZFU) executive director, Dzarira Kwenda,
attributed the shortage of labour to increased arable area created by the
land reform programme, lack of incentives in the sector and resistance by
workers to work for black commercial farmers.

      The government's chaotic land reform programme, which started with
invasions of white-owned commercial farms in 2000, displaced more than 350
farm workers.

      "Some of the farm workers are going into illegal gold panning or into
towns where there are better opportunities. However, others got A1 land
under the land reform programme and they are now farmers themselves," Kwenda

      About 6 000 former white commercial farms were subdivided and
allocated to 140 000 small-scale farmers, some of whom were former farm

      Although some of the resettled farmers were allocated productive land,
they are failing to utilise it and are cutting down trees on the farms for
sale as firewood, which can be seen along major roads.

      General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe
(Gapwuz) secretary general, Getrude Hambira, attributed the current labour
shortage to poor wages. She also said that most of the new farmers cannot
afford to give their workers subsidised food as had became the norm with the
former farm owners.

      "The workers are leaving but others are still on the farms but are
doing other things which give them more money," said Hambira, whose
organisation has a membership of about 50 000 farm workers.

      Presently, the stipulated monthly salary for commercial farm worker is
set at $1.1 million but Hambira said they want it increased to about $3
million a month.

      However, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) a family
of six now requires about $16.7 million to live a normal life.

      Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) grains and cereal chairman,
Denford Chimbwanda, attributed the current shortage of labour to low prices
of commodities that are gazetted by government. He said with a tonne of
maize gazetted at $2.6 million, it would not be sustainable for a farmer to
pay good wages.

      Chimbwanda said apart from gazetting low prices, the government also
delays in announcing the prices of commodities making it difficult to plan
for the future, even hiring labour.

      "If we hire workers and pay them well without considering the price of
our commodities we will fail to cover labour costs and run a loss," he said.

      Kwenda, who urged AgriBank to release loans to farmers in time to
enable farmers to pay their workers, also shared Chimbwanda's concerns.

      "Casual labour is paid weekly, if you fail to pay in time, the workers
will go to the next farm, so what we need is early disbursement of funds
from the bank," said Kwenda, who could not estimate decline that would be
caused by the labour crisis.

      Zimbabwe requires 1.8 million tones of maize for annual consumption
and another 500 000 tonnes of strategic reserves.

      Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) president, Doug Taylor-Freeme, also
confirmed there was general shortage of labour on the commercial farms. He
said the horticultural sector was the most affected because it is

      Taylor-Freeme said: "Some workers moved into towns where there are
better opportunities. Coupled with the shortage of seed, fuel and
fertilizer, the labour crisis has reduced the time available for tillage and
this could have a negative impact on national output."

      He said the actual impact of labour shortage in the farms would only
be quantifiable when planting ends.

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Minister in court over shooting threat

Zim Standard

By our staff

BULAWAYO - The Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Andrew Langa, has
appeared before a Gwanda magistrate accused of threatening to shoot an
aspiring Member of Parliament in the run-up to the March 2005 parliamentary

Langa, who is also the Member of Parliament for Insiza, was not asked to
plead to charges of contravening sections of the Miscellaneous Offences Act
when he appeared for an initial remand before Gwanda magistrate Takudzwa
The State claims that on 22 January last year Langa found his rival,
Siyabonga Malandu-Ncube of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
checking his name on the voters' roll at Avoca Primary School in preparation
for the March polls.

The State alleges that the minister, who was in the company of his election
crew and policemen, was not happy with the presence of Malandu-Ncube,
resulting in him charging at his rival.

While charging at the MDC candidate, "the accused said he was going to shoot
him and nothing was going to happen to him as he was from the ruling party,"
says the State.

The minister was remanded out of custody and the trial has been set for 2

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Vendors reject charges

Zim Standard

By a correspondent

VENDORS displaced by "Operation Murambatsvina" are up in arms with the
Chinhoyi Council over extra payments they are being asked to pay for the
construction of market stalls.

Following the clean up operation, the council ordered Chinhoyi vendors to
pay $2.7m so that "proper structures" could be built for them.
The project was backed by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises
Development headed by Sithembiso Nyoni who officially commissioned a site
for the construction of the flea market structures. Nyoni also promised that
her ministry would provide funds for the project.

But the council says no money has been received from her ministry.

Angry vendors told The Standard that they were shocked to learn that the
council was demanding $5m from them for the stalls to be completed.

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Govt forks out $47m a week to keep Governor in a hotel

Zim Standard

By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO - THE government is spending at least $47 million a week on hotel
bills for the Governor of Matabeleland North, Thokozile Mathuthu, who is
staying at a three-star hotel in the city.

The Standard has established that Mathuthu is staying at the Rainbow Hotel
and has reportedly been occupying a double room which costs $6 million a
Apart from her accommodation that includes breakfast, the government pays
for her dinner which, on average, costs $800 000.

Rainbow Hotel charges $5 million a night for a single bed and breakfast, $6
million for a double bed and breakfast and $800 000 for lunch and dinner.

Mathuthu confirmed that she has been staying at the three-star hotel but
charged that The Standard wanted to scandalise her "yet there is no
governor's house in Matabeleland North and alternative accommodation in

She said: "I will be happy if you were to find alternative accommodation for
me. Where should I sleep? I cannot go and sleep in the streets. I do not see
where the issue of costs (accommodation and dinner) come in, you just want
to scandalise the whole issue."

She could not be drawn to say why she was staying at the hotel when she used
to live in the city before she was appointed Governor and Resident Minister
for Matabeleland North Province.

She declined to say when she started staying at the hotel, although she is
believed to have moved into the hotel a couple of months ago.

Hotel management declined to shed light on the issue or say whether she was
staying with her husband, James, and their children.

The Divisional Manager of Rainbow Hotel, who only identified herself as
Mawumbe said: "It will not be in my best interest to release that
information. It is best for you to contact the Governor's office since they
are the ones that made the booking."

She however referred the paper to the hotel group's chief executive officer,
Pascal Changunda, who said: "We are not in a position to comment on the

The Standard has learnt that Mathuthu has a house in the city, reportedly in
the high-density suburb of Njube.

The Governor also conducts her day-to-day office business of Matabeleland
North from Mhlanhlandlela government complex in Bulawayo as the government
has not yet built offices for Local Government staff in the Northern

Efforts to contact the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing, Ignatius Chombo, were fruitless. He was not answering his
mobile phone.

Matabeleland North is one of the most underdeveloped provinces in the
country yet the province has abundant natural resources that could be used
effectively to boost its growth.

State development programmes that have been initiated in the province have
not taken off due to limited financial resources. They include the
still-born Lupane State University initiative, methane gas project and
Zambezi water scheme.

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More cholera cases in Harare

Zim Standard

By Caiphas Chimhete

CASES of cholera continue to be reported in Harare despite claims by
government that the situation is firmly under control, The Standard has been

Health officials last week said although the number of cases had gone down,
cholera patients were still being treated and admitted at Harare's
infectious disease referral hospitals, Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases
Hospital and Wilkins Hospital.
"We are still receiving new cases of cholera although the numbers have
dropped. We admitted two more people yesterday (Tuesday)," said a senior
official at Beatrice Hospital.

Cholera, a severe intestinal infection caused by ingestion of contaminated
food or water, has killed at least 14 people countrywide in the past three
weeks. More than 180 cases have so far been reported since the outbreak of
the disease three weeks ago.

The official at Beatrice Hospital said: "All hospitals have been ordered not
to speak to the Press because the situation embarrasses the government."

He said eight of the 15 people who were still admitted at the hospital were
discharged on Wednesday while Emerenciance Mashindi, who was pregnant, was
referred to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.

The Standard could not obtain figures from Wilkins but officials at the
hospital also confirmed that they were still dealing with cholera cases.

Addressing a Press conference after touring Mbare Musika on Wednesday, the
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, insisted that the
situation was under control and that there were no more new cases of cholera
being reported.

"We have alerted our provincial medical directors and all hospitals are
ready to deal with the situation. In fact, the situation is under control,"
Parirenyatwa said.

But the president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima), Dr Billy
Rigava, said it would be folly to believe that cholera had been eradicated
when conditions that caused the outbreak were still prevalent.

Rigava, who blamed the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare for failing to
contain the preventable disease, said the country could safely only say it
is safe from cholera three weeks after the last case has been detected.

"The ministry of health should take the blame for failing to contain a
preventable disease. It's a preventable condition, there is no excuse for
failing to prevent it," Rigava said.

He said the outbreak was a clear indication of the collapse of the country's
health delivery system.

The Zima president said government can not wish away cholera unless it
addresses issues regarding the provision of clean running water and ensures
refuse collection and the removal of rubble left behind after the the
controversial "Operation Murambatsvina", which left nearly one million
Zimbabweans homeless.

For nearly a year now, Harare City Council has failed to regularly collect
refuse in the city, leading to the current outbreak of cholera and other
water-borne diseases. The council has also been struggling to provide clean
running water with some Harare residents resorting to digging wells or
fetching water from unprotected and polluted streams, exposing themselves to
water-borne diseases.

Also speaking after touring Mbare, where uncollected garbage and human waste
are attracting swarms of flies and other vermin, Harare City Council town
clerk, Nomutsa Chideya, attributed the council's failure to service the city
to the shortage of fuel, vehicles and the charging of unsustainable service
fees by the local authority.

Presently, Harare has 14 refuse collection trucks instead of the required
90. Only one is servicing the whole of Mbare.

"In a week's time, we would have finished cleaning up Mbare and the vendors
will be back here," said Chideya, who struggled to explain why the council
only reacted after 14 people succumbed to cholera.

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Commission must be accountable for Harare mess

Zim Standard


THE unplanned closure of Mbare Musika last week by the commission running
the City of Harare is an act of undisguised scapegoating. If the market
poses a health hazard, clearly the culprit is the commission, which has
failed to ensure refuse is collected regularly. It is this failure to carry
out its responsibilities that has contributed to outbreaks of diseases.

The commission, in trying to cover up for its incompetence, is victimising
innocent people who are trying to eke out a living by marketing their
The government should not tolerate such ineptitude while residents must
demand an explanation on how exactly the rates they pay are being used.
Growers and stall-holders pay the local authority in order to conduct
business at Mbare Musika but the revenue is not being ploughed back to
improve the environment at the market.

The late Solomon Tawengwa and the entire council he headed were fired after
Harare went for five days without water. The justification for their removal
was that their failure to ensure regularity of water supplies to residents
of Harare posed a health hazard. The commission running the City of Harare
has not only threatened the health of ratepayers for months by its failure
to collect refuse, attend to burst water pipes and stem laval flows of
sewerage, but also offers little prospect of doing so. It should not be
tolerated a day longer.

If the people supposedly running the capital were MDC officials the
government would have dismissed them a long time ago because there is
overwhelming evidence of incompetence. However, because they are members of
the ruling party they are protected. Worse still, they are unaccountable to
the residents whose lives they blight.

Some may argue the government, Zanu PF and their useless commissioners have
conspired to threaten the health of the residents of Harare so that the
commission can accomplish what "Operation Murambatsvina" could not!

It can certainly be argued that as a result of its failure to carry out its
duties properly the commission contributed to the death from cholera and
other water-borne illnesses of several people in Harare while others were
admitted to hospitals for treatment.

The commission likes to suggest that it is unable to collect refuse because
of the current shortage of fuel or inadequate trucks.

It is also ironic that while we are being told the council has no fuel for
utilities such as refuse collection, luxury vehicles driven by the
commissioners and other senior council officials continue to run around on
errands, some of which clearly have little to do with service delivery to

But that is besides the point. Newly resettled farmers have been able to
draw fuel from NOCZIM; and there is no reason why the commission, which has
the backing of, government, could not do the same.There is a compelling case
for the capital to be allocated fuel just as the resettled farmers were but
there is no one keen on serving the interests of Harare's ratepayers.

If, on the other hand, it is true the commission has no capacity, then it
should not have terminated refuse collection contracts by private companies.
Another approach would be to call for refuse collection tenders by companies
who are able to source their own fuel.

The commission says it will take a week to clean up Mbare Musika, but what
is going to happen once it is reopened and more rubbish piles up? Why should
hard-pressed ratepayers tolerate such poor planning? And the consequences
for those neighbouring the relocated market in Belvedere where there are
homes, schools and a five-star hotel are too ghastly to contemplate. It is
not difficult to imagine hordes of flies invading the Sheraton lobby!

The commission has failed and it deserves to be fired because it it isnot
serving the interests of anyone, not even those of the ruling Zanu PF. It is
tragic that the government seems intent on retaining people who do not do
its cause or reputation any good. If the government wants to be popular
among voters it must start by appointing people who can deliver and not
those who can shout loudest Zanu PF slogans.

The Minister of Local Government has no business directing the operations of
the commission on a daily basis. If, as his actions suggest, they have
failed the city, he should sack them. More to the point he should permit
elections for an accountable council.

In May last year the market was closed, ostensibly to clean up and improve
the site. Clearly it was a lie because if the clean up was undertaken and if
there were regular removals of refuse, none of the drastic action taken last
week would have been necessary.

What the commission is doing is to penalise innocent people trying to make a
living in these difficult times. And the government and the ruling party are
surprised when people turn against them - when they demonstrate such
insensitivity to the plight of the majority!

The connection between last week's drastic move and "Operation
Murambatsvina" is that the drivers of these unplanned actions can be traced
to Town House.

The unplanned action showed insensitivity and contradicted efforts by
central government aimed at encouraging growers and farmers to produce
sufficient requirements for the nation. There is nothing more demoralising
for a farmer than spending back-breaking days producing something that has
no market.

The closure of the market demonstrates eloquently the failure by the
commission to consult stakeholders.

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Grim forecast of a terrible 2006

Zim Standard

Sundayopinion by Takura Zhangazha

THE year 2006 is far from one of optimism in Zimbabwe. Apart from what goes
on in individual families such as births, marriages or the leaving of the
country of a loved one for the proverbial "greener pastures" it promises to
be a difficult year with little to look forward to.

This is not because I wish to spread my pessimistic tentacles to the whole
nation and get everyone (who can afford them) on anti-depressants. No, that
is not my intention.
It's really because the last five years have been a huge millstone around
the neck of the ordinary Zimbabwean, whether they be in the informal trade
of "dealing", the civil service, the private sector or in the media. But
just in case a number of us do not want to be too shocked and suffer
debilitating strokes when bad things continue to happen in 2006, I intend to
forecast the political and social weather in Zimbabwe for the next twelve
months. I will begin with the obvious:

There is likely to be more tinkering with the Constitution of Zimbabwe by
the Zanu PF government. This is obvious and there is already a bit of a buzz
in a number of social circles about the impending changes. It will not come
as much of a shock for most people that Zanu PF will change the Constitution
in order for there to be an extension to the term of office of the President
with provision for the putting into place an acting presidency for two

This might not be done immediately because the ruling party is busy
concocting an enactment bill that will enable it to take away passports from
those it does not like.

I project the debate about and around this development to pick up in the
middle of the year through the rather vocal Patrick Chinamasa, chorused by
our rather inept parliamentarians. The legislative changes will begin
initiation towards the end of the year and the changes are likely to become
effective in early 2007.

It should also be quite obvious to the generality of Zimbabweans that the
much-touted Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle will come to nought. The
aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina will still be felt by all and sundry
across the length and breadth of the country.

The government's Operation Garikai will stall, with problems arising out of
squabbles with the United Nations as well as the shortage of funds to
resettle so many people that were displaced. Informal settlements will
re-emerge with a vengeance; to be temporarily destroyed by the loyalist
police force assisted by the brainwashed National Youth Service youngsters.

It is also increasingly clear that elected local councils will remain a
thing of the past in the foreseeable future. The remaining city councils,
including Bulawayo and Masvingo will be found wanting in one false respect
or the other by Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development, Ignatious Chombo, and a lot more Zanu PF apologists will find
themselves in dilapidated local council offices with nothing to do and no
mandate whatsoever from the people walking the streets of their cities.

The rural district councils will remain untouched, with the occasional
firing of one or so such councillors for misappropriation of council funds
only to bounce back after political intervention from some war veterans.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority will continue its failure to deliver
clean water to residents in Harare, Chitungwiza and anywhere else where it
has been ordered to operate. It will also fail to provide Bulawayo with
enough water reserves and the Zambezi Water Project will remain, what it has
always been - a pipe-dream.

The National Constitutional Assembly, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
the Zimbabwe Social Forum and the student unions will continue with their
demonstrations in the streets of major cities.

The public will continue to observe them in admiration but will not join
them. There is, however, the possibility that there will be spontaneous but
brief demonstrations in some high-density areas in Harare over sanitary
issues, prices of basic commodities and the occasional accusations of
witchcraft of a neighbour (usually an elderly single woman).

Zanu PF will also stage its own demonstrations against organisations such as
the United Nations, some overwhelmed mayor (I foresee Kariba as a likely

Turning to the volatile political situation in the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, the two factions of the beleaguered party will hold their
congresses with the surprising permission of the police. Morgan Tsvangirai
will be re-elected as president of the party, whilst Gift Chimanikire will
be the head of the other party claiming the same name. Welshman Ncube will
retain his post as secretary general and Paul Themba Nyathi will be in on a
chance to be the vice president.

Gibson Sibanda will not attend any of the events and perhaps the Tsvangirai
faction will leave the deputy president's post vacant for him to reconsider.
There will definitely be a new secretary general in the Tsvangirai aligned
membership but it's too close to call on who that might be. It definitely,
judging from the spats, won't be a powerful schemer.

I also foresee during 2006 the former Minister of Information and Publicity
in the President's Office, Jonathan Moyo, finally being forced to behave
like an MP and not an individual who knows it all. His flurry of emails,
articles published in various online publications will dissipate, and he
will find more solace in his constituency than in attempting nationalist

The United People's Movement and its attendant "we will rock them" slogan
will become the stuff for pub jokes on an intermittent basis. Moyo might,
however, consider joining one of the MDC factions after the battle over
which one retains the party name has been settled in the courts.

It is also a foregone conclusion that Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings,
although holding monopoly of the electronic media, will fail to broadcast to
the entire country and continue to be ignored. Radio and television stations
under the ZBH will still fail to reach out to the entire country because
they will have purchased obsolete equipment from China or the stuff they
will get from Iran will be delayed in its arrival because of the bad
relations of the latter country with the United States of America.

There shall again be no other television stations throughout this year
because of the Broadcasting Services Act and the general ineptitude of the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. It will also be because that relatively
unknown entity called Transmedia will still not have the necessary equipment
to make it possible. Multi-Choice and its Digital Satellite Television will
continue to be the media of choice for those that can afford it.

But perhaps the most depressing news for the media in Zimbabwe is that
Tafataona Mahoso will remain head of the Media and Information Commission
and continue writing his insipid articles for The Sunday Mail accusing
everyone but himself of curtailing freedom of expression. His MIC, however,
will be regularly subject to six month renewals of contracts with Bright
Matonga increasingly flexing his muscles in the Ministry of Information and

George Charamba will continue writing his immature Nathaniel Manheru pieces
while hoping Matonga does not raise his influence within the Ministry. And
sadly, never mind the optimism, the government is too paranoid to allow The
Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday back on the streets. The Weekly
Tribune and the Business Tribune might come back though.

The lot of journalists will remain classified as "dangerous" by the
government throughout the year and Zimbabwe will remain high up on the list
of countries with the worst working environment for journalists.

And because of a collapsing health services sector and prohibitive costs,
Zimbabweans will increasingly resort to prophets and n'angas. It will not be
because Zimbabweans have suddenly become more superstitious, but because
there will be no hospitals to bother going to, unless you are rich and
shameless. N'angas shall begin to have all sorts of explanations for
illnesses they have never seen before while prophets shall probably have to
store water (in case of water cuts) in order to cope with the demand of the
real holy waters.

Continued on Pg10

And, of course, the doctors shall go on strike as usual, and the nurses
shall join in while city council ambulance drivers and other health
personnel follow suit.

On the education front, our children will continue sharing books, with no
lessons going on as their under-paid teachers spend more time selling boiled
eggs and other wares to other staffers and pupils to make ends meet. Many
pupils will be forced to skip classes because of hunger as they will have
left home without a single morsel in their stomachs and not having a lunch
box prepared either

Football and other sporting activities will continue to be run disastrously.
No glimmer of hope there, even if Zimbabwe does well at the African Cup of
Nations. ZIFA will continue on its path that is devoid of professionalism,
the Premier Soccer League will still be bedevilled by problems of
administration and junior football will not rise an iota beyond national
high schools annual football tournament. Cricket will finally be removed
from the embarrassment of playing Test matches with a depleted side and
rugby will continue its lacklustre performances to minnows such as Namibia
and Uganda.

The entertainment industry will stagnate. While Urban Grooves will have its
occasional flashes from the same artistes, recording studios continue to
make a killing from ambitious but non-creative "artistes". The film industry
will not produce any new blockbuster and where a production will be done, it
will. Like Yellow Card, be heavily sponsored by donors and will have an
apparent and unexciting message. The lack of other radio and television
stations will mean entertainers will remain poor and unrecognised while
others will remain censored by ZBH with only patriotic songs being played or

But perhaps the saddest truth of all is that Zimbabweans are likely to grow
poorer as the year progresses. Inflation will continue to cause sleepless
nights for many of us, including the "dealers" and disposable income will
have the fifteenth nail plunged into its coffin. We might be reduced to
eating one meal a day, forego lunches, and view beef as a luxury. Soya mince
shall invariably rise in price because of demand and bread shall be the
luxury of a birthday party. The government shall perhaps subsidise potatoes,
which the President urged all of us to eat.

And, of course, the doctors shall go on strike as usual, and the nurses
shall join in while city council ambulance drivers and other health
personnel follow suit.

On the education front, our children will continue sharing books, with no
lessons going on as their under-paid teachers spend more time selling boiled
eggs and other food stuffs to other staffers and pupils to make ends meet.
Many pupils will be forced to skip classes because of hunger as they will
have left home without a single morsel in their stomachs and not having a
lunch box prepared either

Football and other sporting activities will continue to be run disastrously.
No glimmer of hope there, even if Zimbabwe does well at the African Cup of
Nations. ZIFA will continue on its path that is devoid of professionalism;
the Premier Soccer League will still be bedevilled by problems of
administration and junior football will not rise an iota beyond national
high schools annual football tournament. Cricket will finally be removed
from the embarrassment of playing Test matches with a depleted side and
rugby will continue its lacklustre performances to minnows such as Namibia
and Uganda.

The entertainment industry will stagnate. While Urban Grooves will have its
occasional flashes from the same artistes, recording studios continue to
make a killing from ambitious but non-creative "artistes". The film industry
will not produce any new blockbusters and where a production will be done,
it will, Like Yellow Card, be heavily sponsored by donors and will have an
apparent and unexciting message. The lack of other radio and television
stations will mean entertainers will remain poor and unrecognised while
others will remain censored by ZBH with only patriotic songs being played or

But perhaps the saddest truth of all is that Zimbabweans are likely to grow
poorer as the year progresses. Inflation will continue to cause sleepless
nights for many of us, including the "dealers" and disposable income will
have the fifteenth nail plunged into its coffin. We might be reduced to
eating one meal a day, forego lunches, and view beef as a luxury. Soya mince
shall invariably rise in price because of demand and bread shall be the
luxury of a birthday party. The government shall perhaps subsidise potatoes,
which the President urged all of us to eat.

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This is torture at the hands of ZTV

Zim Standard

Sundayopinion by Marko Phiri

THE crappiest television ever seen! That is the billing that best summaries
Zimbabwe's sole television station programming. How best can one describe a
television station known more for being soporific than stimulating?

A few years ago, television programming in Zimbabwe was considered among the
best in the region and viewers made sure they were in front of the small
screen at a particular time. Those were the days, for example, when Mondays
nights had the much loved mini series, Tuesday nights had Transworld Sport,
Thursday had Astra Paints Movie of the Week and weekend sport had European
The weekends had programming that literally kept the kids off the streets.

Back then a whole neighbourhood would boast of less than five homes with
television sets such that those blessed with the small screen were virtual
gods as children lined up to be accepted into neighbour's living rooms.

The nostalgia is just mind-blowing as it points to a country on the edge of
some zany kingdom judging by the rapid race to mediocrity.

There were no stories then of men and women earning a living as licence
inspectors risking being lynched by incensed viewers. But then now, these
same people "only doing their job" find themselves working as some kind of
daredevils as irate viewers wonder rather violently why they should be

bothered with paying licences.

What is not so funny about these developments at Zimbabwe television is that
the sole broadcaster was, as the story goes, transformed into a big yawn
after the rise of Jonathan Moyo. But then, more interestingly, even after he
left and now with brickbats being thrown his direction by his erstwhile
comrades, the same crap is still being shown.

So why not throw away the bath water together with the baby? Do we not still
hear his so-called compositions as the country psyches up itself for the
African Cup of Nations? But then you can trust these men forcing themselves
on us to miss the plot many light years from now.

Why not cleanse the television of all vestiges of this man then if all the
ranting by government clowns is to be taken seriously?

For many here and for whom paid-for entertainment is beyond reach,
television provided the best form of home entertainment and this was way
before the advent of DVDs, but certainly after the advent of Zanu PF! Now,
for a family that cannot afford a night out at the movies and those fancy
gadgets, it means life in Zimbabwe is one big bore. Life at Wha Wha must
have been better!

These families could easily die of ennui. But the biggest irony of it all is
that the men and women in charge, from the government officials to the
people at the helm of this crappy station their children feast on foreign
programmes through satellite TV.

These children would disown their super-rich parents for subjecting them to
local television.

This is a station that sees it fit to show ruling party big wigs with fat
necks for hours feasting during some fund-raising gala or dinner dance for
the national team while a good number of families go hungry and don't give a
hoot about football.

Local television has gone through a metamorphosis so radical it is no
surprise that there is a proliferation of video clubs across the country.
Where were these entrepreneurs five years ago?

A station that cannot even show great children programmes like the Tom and
Jerry Kids and still claim to be people-friendly is easily the greatest joke
this side of the Sahara. Who in their right minds would take seriously
threats about arrest for not paying their licence fees to be sent to sleep,
if not to an early grave?

But then because Zimbabwean society has shown zero consumer resistance, you
can bet your posterior the threats of arrest will be taken seriously by
many. Still, it is more of the disregard of people's thoughts and
perspectives by the regime itself which by some claim to omniscience defines
the so-called national ethos.

It defines for grown men what is good for them and you just have to ask what
makes them think they are guardians of moral rectitude. What difference then
do these men have with regimes like the Talibans and other rabid Islamists
who decide young lovers should not hold hands in public?

Bore them to death; let them have it and see what they will do about it,
appears to be the sadistic resolve of those at whose mercy we find

Too bad, families have to point fingers at the Devil when fathers die while
sitting in front of the television. In America the land of litigation, you
can bet lawyers would feast on the government.

There are so many fronts here to inspire street protests, so one has to
imagine police battering demonstrators who are complaining about lousy
television programmes.

But then the regime has shown it will not take any popular protests lying

Localise, yes, but don't trivialise. Locally produced programmes would kill
South African producers with laughter because the drive to create pseudo-SA
local productions is so amateurish one just wonders what the heck we are
being subjected to.

What did we do to deserve this?

But then, do those in authority appreciate broadcasting professionalism or
as in most other spheres where Zanu PF has extended its grabby hands,
mediocrity rules.

What do you expect when the only qualification one needs to having
participated, even by proxy, in the liberation struggle to be a broadcaster
or television journalist.

Jonathan Moyo was once quoted stating that he preferred to work with young
inexperienced journalists whom he could mould into his propaganda tools -
the results of his endeavours are now certainly showing.

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Mountain to climb for Gono

Zim Standard

By our staff

PRESSURE mounts on beleaguered Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor
Gideon Gono after year-on-year inflation galloped by 83.4 percentage points
in December with economic analysts predicting a further increase in the next

The Central Statistical Office (CSO) last week announced that year-on-year
inflation is now pegged at 585.8% up from the November rate of 502.4

The fourth quarter monetary policy review statement for 2005 is expected
this month and Gono is in an unenviable position of making his predictions
of inflation figures falling down to please a restive population begging for
respite from incessant prices increases.

The price increases have left the majority of Zimbabweans living below the
poverty datum line. Economic analyst, John Robertson, said there were
powerful market forces at play which are going to push up inflation and the
inflation figures are likely to surpass the all time high of 622.3% this

"There are forces of supply and demand which cannot be pushed aside that are
fuelling inflation and inflation will continue to rise on the back of
increases in school fees, medical fees and the expected salary increments
especially in the civil service," Robertson said.

He added that Gono's hands were tied because his powers were limited and
most of his predictions were turning out to be mere political rhetoric.
"Gono is hoping that expectation will lead to fact but that will not happen
as everything is tied to politics," added Robertson.

Another economist who declined to be named said the RBZ needs to come to the
realisation that monetary authorities cannot tame inflation only.

"There are a lot of exogenous factors taking place beyond the control of
monetary authorities," the economic analyst said. He said the Governor had
done what he needed to do like cutting down on money supply growth, which he
said had decelerated in 2005 as compared to 2004.

Daniel Ndlela, an economic consultant, said inflation was going to rise
above 600% in the next few months after increases in school and medical
fees, fuel price increases and also salary increments. He said Gono's
predictions were fast losing credibility because they were being proved
wrong each and every time new inflation data is released.

"People used to hang on his statement but this time around there is nothing
to hang on and people have become disillusioned," said Ndlela.

Efforts to contact Gono were unsuccessful as he was expected back in the
office later in the week.

In his third quarter monetary policy review statement, Gono had predicted
annual inflation to reach levels to fall tobetween 280-300 %, and of between
50-80% by December 2006, but this is looking highly unlikely. Economic
analysts are unanimous that the major inflation drivers were supply
constraints especially of raw materials and foreign currency and these
needed to be addressed before the inflation battle could be won.

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National Railways off track: report

Zim Standard

By Ndamu Sandu

SERIOUS operational and financial problems besetting the National Railways
of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have paralysed operations at the parastatal resulting in
failure to fulfil its mandate as a transporter, Standardbusiness can reveal.

In a document entitled the Turn Around Strategic Plan, the Tripartite
Turn-around Committee (TTC) lays bare NRZ's technical and financial hitches
that have been attributed to the decline in the tonnage moved by the

The document reveals that tonnage moved by NRZ had been on a free fall from
12.3 million tonnes in 1999 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2003. The drop in
volume of traffic correlated with the drop in the number of mainline
locomotives available for use.

In the period under review, mainline locomotive availability fell to 26 in
2003 from a peak of 52 in 1999. Members of the TTC were drawn from the NRZ
board and management, Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Workers' Union, Railway
Artisan Union, Railway Association of Enginemen and officials from the
ministries of Transport and Finance and Economic Development.

Figures also reveal that profitability of the organisation has been
declining. In 1999 operating (deficit)/surplus as a percentage of operating
revenue stood at 35% but fell to 15% (in 2000) and -5% (2001). Operating
(deficit)/surplus as a percentage of operating revenue shot up to 15% in
2002 and 42.5% in 2003.

The document attributed the positive operating profit balance in 2002 and
2003 to under expenditure on maintenance, the main issue being the failure
to secure foreign currency.

Investigations last week unravelled that of the 175 locomotives available,
118 were overdue for service. The locomotives were diesel electric (DE),
electric (EL1) and steam.

Of the DE11 locos, 8 out of 13 were overdue, DE10 (41 out of 59), EL1 (11
out of 15), DE9 (43 out of 64), DE6 (nil) and steam (15 out of 15). This
effectively means that as of June 2004, only 21 of the 56 serviceable
locomotives were rail-worthy.

The document says the reliability of the overhauled locomotives is
compromised by the failure to adhere to running maintenance schedules, due
to lack of consumable spares.

The replacement costs for a DE10A and DE11A were estimated US$2 million and
US$2.5 million respectively. According to the report 44% of the wagon
fleet's life expired as of June 2003. The service of a wagon is 40 years. A
total of 2 744 wagons from a fleet of 10 713 were out of service.

From a fleet size of 6 837 of the high-sided iron, 1 823 were out of
service. Of the drop-sided iron wagons, 386 from a fleet of 1 891 were out
of service. Of the 703 tanks, 431 were available. NRZ had 63 container
wagons out of service from a fleet of 450 while of the 832 covered wagons,
200 were out of service.

With a replacement value for each wagon billed at US$75 000, it meant that a
good number of wagons had to be parked awaiting spares.

As at 14 June 2004, 304 coaches were overdue for service from a fleet of
314. The document says the condition of the old brown coaches, which are
used for the commuter service and on some of the inter-city routes "is
particularly bad". It says that most of these "do not have any lighting
inside due to obsolete components and some have worn out floors and
vandalised doors".

Staff turnover has also haunted NRZ. In the four years to 2003, the
parastatal lost over 200 skilled personnel to the Diaspora. Skills were lost
in the engineering and computing fields from engineers, technicians,
programmers and artisans.

The document said the exodus, compounded by low complements through natural
attrition had negatively affected productivity.

Standardbusiness was reliably informed that as part of its recapitalisation,
NRZ had sought and received central bank authority to get funding from key

The recapitalisation - which started in July 2003 - is aimed at restoring
capacity in terms of locomotives, wagons, coaches and infrastructure.
Standardbusiness can reveal that NRZ and its major customers had set aside
US$23.4 million for the repair of 45 locomotives.

NRZ's major customers who injected funds include Stuttafords Glens and Inter
Trans Mover, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), Zimbabwe Sugar Sales (ZSS),
Ziscosteel and New Limpopo Projects Investment. However only 13 locomotives
from a pool of 45 had undergone repairs.

In addition NRZ had also benefited from its major customers for the repair
of wagons. NRZ's major customers - Bindura Nickel Corporation, ZIMASCO,
Triangle and Hippo, ZPC and ZSS - financed the repair of wagons to the tune
of US$2.4 million. According to the report, 81 wagons had not passed through
the repair stage from a fleet of 829.

NRZ is among other parastatals and local authorities set to benefit from the
$3 trillion Parastatals and Local Authorities' Re-orientation Programme
(PLARP) supervised by the RBZ. According to PLARP, parastatals and local
authorities have to adhere to strict vetting to access funds for productive

Analysts say the problems at NRZ are the consequences of interference by the
Minister, Christopher Mushohwe. Analysts say Mushohwe's interference was
inimical to the implementation of the turn-around strategy at the
parastatal, a charge he denies. In his dissolution of the Sam Geza-led NRZ
board, Mushohwe cited failure to implement a sound turn-around programme as
one of the reasons behind the dissolution. But Geza hit back accusing
Mushohwe as the stumbling block in the implementation of the parastatal's

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Unions now ineffective

Zim Standard

By our staff

THE economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe has sparked debate on the
functions and influence of labour unions with analysts doubting their

But labour unions have defended their sovereignty saying the worker could be
worse off without their representation.
Labour consultant, Ndumiso Sibanda said the influence of unions had waned
with most failing to negotiate salary increments that match inflation.

"In my view, it is a question of economic fundamentals that are not in
place. A lot of workers lost their jobs because of the under-performing
economy. When workers lose their jobs, the strength of the union wanes,"
said Sibanda.

"The union cannot ask for a living wage from companies performing below
capacity. For example, a company operating at 40 % capacity cannot give
salaries that match inflation. As such the unions' capacity to negotiate is
eroded. Consequently, the workers begin to feel that the unions are not
helpful," he added.

The Total Consumption Poverty Datum Line now stands at $17,3 million, a
figure above the minimum salary of $900 000.

This, according to analysts, is a test case ofunions' ability to negotiate
for "suitable" salary increments.

Last year salary negotiations were characterised by deadlocks with
management and workers failing to agree on increments and a similar
situation is expected this year.

Zimbabwe Congress of Unions Secretary General, Wellington Chibebe conceded
that confidence in unions had waned but blamed government for their

"Given the economic situation workers could be worse if there were no labour
unions. We are very much vibrant although somebody looking on from the
terraces sees a different picture," said Chibebe.

"Unions submit their position papers during salary negotiations but we
cannot have adjustments that match inflation because of the economic
meltdown. Trade unions cannot be blamed for that. The fault lies on the
government, which is failing to fulfil its duty and improve the lives of its

He said it would be a fallacy to describe trade unions as 'irrelevant'
because it is through their efforts that tax brackets and Value Added Tax
were reduced from 45% to 35 % and 17, 5 % to 15 % respectively.

Sibanda said having two unions - ZCTU and the government-alligned Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions - was also compromising the interest of the

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